Mavericks-Bobcats Preview

The Associated Press

The surging Dallas Mavericks are 10 games above .500 for the first time since 2010-11, when they went on to win the NBA championship.

That doesn't set up well for the Charlotte Bobcats, who have already struggled mightily in this series.

Visiting Dallas goes for a sixth straight victory and 18th in 19 tries against the Bobcats on Tuesday night.

The Mavericks (31-21) have scored 109.2 points per game while shooting 49.6 percent during their run, the team's longest since winning six in a row Feb. 8-17, 2012.

"We're looking to move up," said 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, averaging 27.0 points over the last seven games. "If you look at the standings, (places) five through eight is only separated by a couple of games. We'd love to keep pushing."

Dallas stayed hot Sunday with a 102-91 win at Boston. Nowitzki led six Mavericks in double figures with 20 points, and Jose Calderon scored 18. Monta Ellis added 11 while playing through a sore hamstring.

"There are encouraging signs, but there's no way we can exhale or start feeling too good," said coach Rick Carlisle, whose team went 57-25 during the 2010-11 regular season. "The games are too important. ... We're working better defensively, we're working at our health, we're working at being a more together team, which we've been the last few games. We just got to continue in that game."

Dallas limited the Celtics to an opponent season-low 35.9 percent shooting, improving to 21-4 when holding teams to under 46.0 percent.

"I think we're just locked in," veteran Vince Carter said. "We're just doing what needs to be done. Just playing our level, everybody was on the same page moving the ball. The streak is great, I think that everybody is contributing and understanding their role.

"We just need to look at the next game and the next task at hand."

Dallas has to be feeling good about keeping things going against a Bobcats team it's dominated over the years. The Mavericks have taken 17 of 18 all-time meetings in this series, with their only loss coming 101-97 in overtime during their last visit to Charlotte on Nov. 10, 2012.

Nowitzki, who didn't play in that game, is averaging 26.1 points in 16 contests against the Bobcats, his second-highest mark against any team.

Dallas took this season's first matchup 89-82 on Dec. 3 after outscoring Charlotte 29-15 in the fourth quarter. Nowitzki and Ellis led the way with a combined 47 points.

The Mavericks held the Bobcats, one of the league's worst shooting teams at 43.5 percent, to 38.5 percent shooting - including 3 of 17 from 3-point range.

Charlotte (22-29) is hoping to avoid a third loss in four games this month after falling 104-100 to San Antonio on Saturday. Al Jefferson continued his recent surge with 26 points and Gerald Henderson scored 23, but the Bobcats couldn't keep up after allowing 35 over the final 12 minutes.

"We didn't play with level of discipline that we need to," coach Steve Clifford said. "It was a good effort but we're going to have to play a much more disciplined game to beat a team like that."

Jefferson is averaging 27.3 points and 11.8 rebounds while shooting 55.0 percent over the last 13 games. He posted 19 and 12 at Dallas in December, and the Bobcats are 4-17 this season when he fails to score 20.

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